Monthly Archives: January 2011

Prompt: Solitude

Today’s prompt is: Solitude.

My Response:
The days after Evelyn’s death were long and hard. I sought solitude and the company of myself, but it seemed to me that there was another knock on my door as soon as one person had left. They came to visit me, to ask me about her last words, a few to see how I was doing. I did not care for their company; without Evelyn the temple was nothing to me. The temple of Ahkmar was rising; without Evelyn, this temple was as good as dead. It served a dead Goddess after all.

A newspaper came to me and asked me to write her obituary. I spat in the young man’s face and told him to leave me alone with my grief. I didn’t care about the bad publicity.

I appeared at her funeral, but I watched from the distance. Evelyn had brought me in when she found me bleeding to death on the street; she had saved me, she had cared for me. I would never have been a priestess, but she gave me a life within the temple. She did not give me friends. I did not speak to the mass that gathered at her funeral. I spoke only briefly to those whom I had known well, but I did not pursue conversation.

When her body was buried I walked back to my room alone. I did not go to the wake. I had seen all I needed to. I had all I needed…

Evelyn handed me a silver silk bag held closed by a string. It was heavy in my hand and it clinked when it moved. I pulled the bag open as she watched. Twenty silver coins and a dozen gold coins filled the bag to the brim. I gasped and looked up at Evelyn. She smiled at me, her old decaying eyes sparkling in the candle light.

“It was my mother’s. She gave it to me when she died, but what good is money to a woman of the temple? I have been waiting all of this time for the Goddess to show me what I am to do with this. She has shown me now that I am to give it to you.”

“But Evelyn-”

“You must find your own way, and this will allow you to do that…”

The preparations were simple: buy a horse cheap from the temple, get a free bundle of blankets and clothes, and go into town to buy food and whatever else I needed to. Of my own possessions I brought only the necklace Evelyn had given me for my sixteenth birthday a year earlier and the sword that my father had tried to kill me with many years before that. When I had slit his throat with a kitchen knife, I took the sword.

A sword doesn’t always save you from a beating, but it helps. I put it in a leather sheet and put it around my waist. I wore trousers for riding and a white shirt, covered by a green cloak. The horse they sold me was a beauty, black as night and nearly as fast as a bird. Her name was Taea. Taea was Evelyn’s horse; she rose the horse just as she rose me, with kindness and love.

It was sunset when I was finished in the city. I did not mind riding through the night; anything to get out of this place. Taea carried me through the gates just before they closed for the night. The guards did not try to stop me. I was only mildly surprised; they probably figured I was on a suicide mission anyway.

The night was warm and the cool wind refreshing. I was alone, really and truly alone, in the middle of the forest. The trees were my company. And I was fine with that.

Please post the first 75 words of your response.


This year most of my goals revolve around one thing: discipline. In past years I have fallen off of the writing bandwagon. I have forgotten to blog for weeks on end, and I have failed to finish several projects. I have not made the amount of time for my writing that I should have. In short, I have not been disciplined enough.

But things are changing this year. This summer I turn eighteen and I will finally be old enough to sign a book contract. This year I have to put in the effort. This year I have to pull myself together and finish, edit, and submit. I have often said that I do not have a part time job because I spend the time I would spend at such a job writing. But this is only an excuse unless I am actually trying to make a living off of my writing.

My goals this year are much smaller than my goals last year, but they are also more focused. By the end of this year I want to have one novella out on submission and one novel about to be sent out for the first time. It’s time for me to stop procrastinating and start really writing. This is my career, this is my future and I have to take it seriously.

So how am I going to become more disciplined this year?

Breaking Down Big Goals

Breaking down big goals will allow me to focus on individual tasks-what I need to do right now rather than what I need to do by the end of the year. Preparing Moonshadow’s Guardian for submission doesn’t seem so daunting when I have a timeline for the big rewrite, the second rewrite, the final proofread and creating the query package. Having Some Secrets Should Never Be Known ready for its final proofread by next year seems just a bit easier when I have a timeline for pre-work, writing, and rewriting.

Break down your yearly goals into monthly goals. If you need to make even smaller goals, think about weekly goals and daily goals-for example, if you write a page a day, will you meet your monthly timeline? How about if you write a chapter or two each week? Writing two chapters a week, even if it means finishing your novel by the end of the month, doesn’t feel quite so daunting as ‘finish my novel by the end of the month’.

Changing My Mindset to Change My Life

Last summer I learned that there really is something to how you think about things, that it actually does influence your life’s course. I challenged many of my beliefs and I have become a better person because of that. I have overcome former weaknesses, though I will never be perfect. I have accomplished what I wanted and needed to accomplish.

This year I am going to do much the same thing with my writing. Here are some of the beliefs I have to challenge:

I don’t have time to write If I have time to go out and see my friends and plenty of time to spend with my boyfriend, I have time to write. I just need to spend less time socializing and more time writing. I have to make the time and I have to say no to last minute plans.

I won’t make a living as a writer until I’m old If I focus hard enough, if I truly dedicate myself to my craft, if I put in the effort, I can get published sooner rather than later. I am a good writer, and though I will always be learning, I know enough now to start making a career. And if I focus hard enough and I get published soon, I can probably be making a living off my writing by the time I’m 25.

I need more life experience to get published I’ve had a lot more life experience than many people my age. I have matured as a person and as a writer. I am quite capable right now. Life experience will always help make my writing better, but I can’t wait for life to happen. I need to make the writing happen sooner rather than later.

Paying Attention to Small Accomplishments

Giving yourself a pat on the back every time you accomplish something small is more productive than thinking about what you still have left to do. You may have heard the advice to live your life in the moment; well, to a point, writing should be much the same way. You should focus on the scene or page or chapter that you are working on rather than the whole book. Whole books are a lot scarier to think about.

Next time you finish your writing for the day, congratulate yourself. Think about what you’ve accomplished and how well you’re doing. Don’t think about the next day or the day after that. Just sit down with a cup of something warm and tasty and enjoy yourself.

Applying Butt To Chair

Any writer worth his or her salt knows that the most important thing about being a writer is applying your butt to the chair and actually writing. This is also the hardest part of being a writer. Calling yourself a writer and having great ideas are easy; sitting down and turning those ideas into stories is hard. There are a few things that I need to do to help myself apply butt to chair:

Spend more time at home Lots of writers don’t have this problem. There are many shy writers and I would go so far as to say that the majority of writers have problems socializing. Personally I am extremely social and though I don’t hang out with many ‘normal people’ (by society’s standards) I do hang out with a lot of people. I need to spend more time at home to ensure that I have time for both homework and writing stuff.

Take My Writing Seriously the other part of this is to make sure my friends take my writing seriously. I need to learn how to say no when I’m invited out. I need to make my friends aware that I do need time for writing. I don’t need to schedule specific writing time every day-but I do need to make sure that I have a little bit of time to write every day or almost every day.

Focus on the Dream When life gets me down and it gets hard to find time to write-or hard to write-I need to remember my dream. I need to close my eyes and imagine my future-preferrably in a little house somewhere near or on the cliffs of Scotland, writing books with a couple of cats and hopefully the same man I have now. I need to remember why I put myself through the pain of forcing words onto a blank page. I need to remember that it’s all worth it in the end.

This year I need to focus on becoming a real, professional writer. It’s time to stop messing around and start treating my writing like what it is-a career, a future. It’s time to be a little more disciplined. And when I am my future will fall into place.

How can you be more disciplined?

MuseItHot! Author Interview: Kay Dee Royal

Today’s author interview is with Kay Dee Royal, author of Big Girls Don’t Cry Wolf, published by MuseItHot! Publishing. She will be available later on today to answer any questions you may have.

1. Can you tell us a bit about your e-book, Big Girls Don’t Cry Wolf?

I first got the idea for my protagonist, Brea, when I saw a contest asking for a
strong, intelligent, plus-sized, confident-in-her-body heroine. I loved the concept
and so did Brea.

The story relates to two sets of twins (lots of 2’s here). Brea loses her twin sister
at age fourteen, although Brea (now age twenty-six) never has felt Belle’s death.
Brea takes over the family business, a rustic vacation resort, throwing herself into
its success. Grey and his brother Blake (twin werewolves) enters the picture, looking for rest,
relaxation, and maybe a mate or two on the side. A rogue werewolf abducts Brea. Grey must find her and claim her for himself, if he can…or is it already too late?

It’s only 20,100 words, so a fast read, but long enough to develop the hero and
heroine, and of course the villain.

2. How did you find Muse It Up Publishing?

I’ve been an avid follower of Lea Schizas for years. Attending her Muse Online
Conferences, reading her online e-zine, Apollo’s Lyre, being a member to her
Yahoo Groups – Muse Online Conference group, and a crit group Big Kids Muse
(for YA). When I found out she was opening an online publishing house, I wanted
on board. So, I submitted as soon as I could.

3. What’s your favorite thing about Muse It Hot?

I absolutely love the author support there. Lea, Litsa, the editors, cover artists, and
all of the authors are there for everyone, like a family, sharing blogs, information,
and wisdom. Being there has been an awe inspiring experience for me.

4. When and how did you decide to become a writer?

After nearly twenty years, my corporate job began draining me instead of feeding
me. It sucked the life force right out of me. I needed a change. After a lot of
discussion, my husband agreed I needed out and he gave me a couple of years
to attain a writing career, something I had dallied in for years, but not seriously.
So, I got serious. Took a writing course for children and wrote three novels that I
haven’t sent any where.
Once I started writing romance, it was tough to stop. So here I am.

5. Why did you choose paranormal erotica romance?

It is what I love to read. It made sense to write what I love.

6. What advice would you give to writers looking to write more realistic love

First, write what feels comfortable for you to write. If it doesn’t feel comfortable
it will come across stilted and uncomfortable to the reader. Next, I’d say give
some serious thought to your partners responses to each other – there can be a
lot of good motivation, history, emotional dysfunction, love, loyalty, trust, etc.
portrayed through the act of sex. In romance erotica, sex isn’t usually just for the
act of sex, it develops characters and relationships.

7. What piece of advice do you think is most important for writers to keep in mind
over all?

Develop your characters. Know them inside and out, ask them the tough questions
like – What is the rudest, meanest, craziest thing you’ve ever done? What is the
one thing you feel most sorry for doing? What was your worst embarrassing
moment? What three things would you never do?

Answers to these kind of tough questions helps develop a stronger character,
knowing what motivates, inspires, or drives your character makes him/her real.

8. What author do you admire most and why?

Wow, I have so many, and my list is still building. I don’t think I can pick just
one. I admire authors who write strong characters that stay well after the story is
over, like: Carla Neggers, Susan Squires, Jeri Smith-Ready, Maggie Stiefvater,
Ursula K. LeGuin, Kelly Armstrong, Gena Showalter, Jodi Picoult, and many

9. What are you reading right now?

Playing With Fire, by Gena Showalter, and A Past and a Future, an anthology by
Penny Lockwood Ehrenkranz

10. What are you working on right now that readers can look forward to?

My WIP is Staring Into the Eyes of Chance. It is the first book in the LIIA (Lycan
International Investigation Agency) series.

Olivia, a fifty-five year old widow, meets a three hundred year old werewolf,
Chance. At her husbands funeral, Olivia found out he’d led a separate life of philandering,
and Chance watched his father mourn his mother for his whole life – neither want
a relationship, but find it anyway.

She owns and runs a wildlife refuge and preserve, and he heads the LIIA, bringing
rogue and criminal Lycan to justice. One criminal rogue pack settles on Olivia’s property and all hell breaks loose for both Olivia and Chance.

Bio: Kay Dee Royal writes fantasy and paranormal erotica romance. She enjoys
penning any tale her characters share, sometimes she doesn’t get a choice in the
matter. Her first book, Big Girls Don’t Cry Wolf, released on January 1, 2011
through Muse It Up Hot Publishing. Kay Dee lives in Michigan with her husband,
two dogs, and two cats.

Blog –

Thanks Kay Dee for doing this interview. And thanks to all of you for reading.

Changing Your Mindset to Change Your Life

When working to achieve your goals, it’s good to remember that how you think about your goals is as important as the goals themselves. I’m not just talking about Breaking Down Big Goals, I’m talking about optimism versus pessimism in a sense. Not optimism towards the world-I still have a very bleak worldview-but optimism towards yourself. I’m talking about focusing on positive reinforcement instead of negative reinforcement.

Thinking ‘I Can’ and ‘I Will’ instead of ‘I Can’t’ and ‘I won’t’

Everybody’s told you to make sure that your goals are concrete and achievable. What they haven’t told you is how much your thinking can damage your progress.

I’ll use a very personal example. Until recently, I’ve always had relationship problems. I never gave any of my relationships longer than six months life expectancy. I expected that I would be a bad girlfriend; I expected that nobody would be able to deal with me.

At the end of the summer, I had a mental breakdown. I screwed up the best relationship of my life, and it could have been forever. Thankfully it wasn’t. But before I could re-commit to the relationship, I had to change the way I thought. Instead of ‘this isn’t going to work’ I had to think ‘this will work’. I had to think ‘this will last a long time’ instead of ‘this will only last a few months’. I had to think ‘I can be a good girlfriend, I will be a good girlfriend’ instead of ‘I’m a bad girlfriend, I will always be a bad girlfriend’. Most of all I had to learn to think about how I could get through the problems in my mind, the problems in my communication with my boyfriend, rather than thinking they were unbeatable and that they would destroy us. I did make all of these mental changes, and I’m back to that commitment, quite happily still in the best relationship I’ve ever had.

Your writing goals-and your life goals-can be just as easily broken down as your relationships, if not more so. All it takes is thinking ‘I can’t accomplish this’ or ‘life won’t give me the time I need’ or ‘I won’t do this.’ You have to think ‘I can accomplish this’ and ‘I will make time for this’ and ‘I will do this’. It’s hard sometimes, but it’s something you have to do.

When you’re feeling down and life is getting in the way, think about what you have already accomplished. If you managed to do that when letting life push you around, imagine what you can do if you forcibly make time to reach your goals. If you’re feeling down about your writing, then write something anyway, and focus on how good it feels to have written, not how hard it is to write.

Replace every Negative thought with a Positive thought

Every time a nasty thought about yourself and your goals, challenge it with a positive thought. Don’t think that you’re the most amazing person ever instead of the worst person ever; do think that you are a good person rather than a bad person. Every time ‘I can’t do this’ pops into your head, tell yourself ‘yes I can, if I try’. Every time you think ‘I’m too lazy to do this’ or ‘I’m not disciplined enough for this’ tell yourself ‘I can do this’ and ‘I am disciplined enough’. If something is really blocking you from reaching your goals, think about how to get over, around, under, or through that obstacle.

I am devoting myself to a new way of thinking. I will not say that I am lazy or undisciplined. I will say that it is hard for me to keep any strict routine, and I will think of ways to be productive without a strict routine so that I don’t get myself down about not being in routine. I will not say that blogging three times a week is too much work for me. I will say that I can do it, but I need to make the time for blogging. I will not believe that it is too hard to finish rewriting a novella while working on the mythology of another world. I will believe instead that with proper focus and making time I can certainly finish both the mythology and the novella in a couple of months.

Did you complete high school? Odds are, if you managed that-or if you’re still in school and managing to pass-you can do a lot of other great things, too. If you completed high school, you have the discipline to write a book, even if not very quickly. If you completed high school, you can probably blog three times a week; it’s no different from doing three one-page assignments in a week. You might say that they gave you six hours a day to do it in-but if you made time for your homework, you can make time for your passion.

So next time you look at your list of goals and think ‘I’m never going to manage that in a year’, think instead ‘I can do this and probably more this year’. It’s not easy, but nothing worth doing ever is. (Except maybe breathing and sleeping… Possibly eating.)

What negative thoughts are holding you back? How will you challenge this?

Author Interview: Rebecca Ryals Russell

Today’s interview is with MuseItUp author Rebecca Ryals Russell, a YA author whose first novel comes out on April first.

1. When did you decide to become a writer and what inspired you to do so?
I’ve written things since age 8, but never wrote to be published until 3 years ago when I retired from teaching and the kids were self-sufficient. I was inspired by a story line that’s been in my head for 30 years.

2. Can you tell us a bit about the projects you have coming out with MuseItUp Publishing?
I currently have 7 books contracted for next year.
The first is Book 1 of the YA series Seraphym Wars: Odessa due out April 1, 2011-
While fighting inner demons of a rape at age 16, Myrna now 18, faces the same demons who attacked her while fulfilling her destiny as Leader of the Army of Vigorios, demon hunters.

Then is Book 2 of the MG series Stardust Warriors: Zarena due out July 1, 2011-
14-year-old Zarena wakes on the home planet of The Conscientia, Laud’s 12-member Assembly, to discover she is to be trained as the Leader of the Army of Vigorios, demon hunters.

Next is a Prequel for Seraphym Wars: Conscientia out Sept 1, 2011-
Jeremiah Holyfield, a member of Laud’s 12-member Conscientia, agrees to live on the demonized planet of Dracwald in order to protect the Prophecy of the Vigorios. Several thousand years later 18-year-old Myrna wakes in the home of The Conscientia to begin her training as Leader of the Vigorios, demon hunters.

I threw in a horror story Don’t Make Marty Mad out Oct 1, 2011 (for Halloween)-
Marty, a frustrated factory worker and demanding new father, gets confused about his wife’s loyalties and decides to take matters into his own hands. Literally.

Then Book 1 of Stardust Warriors: Jeremiah due out November 1, 2011-
Jeremiah Holyfield, a member of Laud’s 12-member Conscientia, agrees to live on the demonized planet of Dracwald in order to protect the Prophecy of the Vigorios.

Book 2 of Seraphym Wars: Harpies is due out January 1, 2012-
15-year-old Griffen, gamer from Earth, wakes on a foreign planet with new abilities to control lightning. He discovers he must find and escort two other Vigorios, demon hunters, to an island far away–13-year-old Aurora, abandoned and living on the streets and 12-year-old Seth, with an evil streak that stays hidden. Along the way they battle dragons, trolls, Harpies and more while learning to rely on others as well as themselves.

And Book 3 of Stardust Warriors: Laman due out February 1, 2012-
Laman, 14-year-old gamer from Earth, wakes one morning on a strange planet. Having been struck by lightning the night before he discovers new abilities. To get home he must fulfill his part of the Prophecy of the Vigorios, demon hunters, which involves staying alive and guarding two other Vigorios.

Awaiting word about Books 4 and 5 of Stardust Warriors: Mercy and Magaelbash. Should hear soon about them.

3. How did you find MuseItUp Publishing?

I first met Lea at an online conference (not her own) then attended a chat with her editors, cover artist and authors. I was so impressed by the casual friendliness and family atmosphere I knew I wanted to be part of her company. I submitted Odessa immediately.

4. What was the first story you ever wrote about?

I have no idea. Too long ago.

5. What genre do you enjoy writing in most and why?

I write Fantasy for YA and MG, plus a few Picture Books. My fav is YA Fantasy. Teens have vivid imaginations but are on the verge of adulthood as well so it’s easy to take them places, like foreign planets, and keep some mildly adult themes included. For my Middle Graders I have to so careful about my wording, no cussing, for instance and that sometimes hinders my characters who tend to be rough and real. No wimps in my books.

6. What do you think is the most important piece of advice for other writers to remember?
Write often to Write well. It took me 3 years to finally get Odessa right. I revised it 6 times before finding the voice and getting to know the characters. But the book I’m writing now for NaNoWriMo, a YA Dystopian Romance, is coming along much faster because my brain has been in training for the past 4 years. And ideas for new books won’t stop presenting themselves. I have about 6 WIPs.

7. Can you tell us a bit about your writing process?
I’m a Planner. I Pantsed Odessa and paid for it. Izzy and Josh (working title of Dystopian) has been planned and outlined and while it’s been slow finding out what the characters have to say about their story, it’s coming along. Since Nov 1 to now, Nov 17, I’ve written 38,000 words of the story. I anticipate it will be about 90,000 when finished. Most of my books are pretty complex and long.

8. What do you think is the hardest part of the writing process?

Finding time to write. I substitute teach at my youngest son’s Catholic school, and being a retired MG teacher they use me A LOT. Which is great for spending money. Last year I bought my hubby an iPad for Christmas with my subbing money, but it cuts into my time to write. I often stay up until 2am if not subbing the next day.

9. What are you reading right now?

I read a lot of Craft books lately. Creating Character Emotions by Ann Hood has been invaluable to me. Also, The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman and Hooked by Edgerton. For fiction, I’m reading The Road. My son read it and loved it. The style is definitely different-no quotation marks for speech. But the style is also perfect for the story.

10. What are you currently working on?
I’m in the middle of a YA Dystopian Romance and thinking about Book 3: Majikals of the Seraphym Wars series while planning Book 6 and 7:Tien and Phoebe of the Stardust Warriors series.

Rebecca Ryals Russell lives in a Victorian house on five acres with her family. She also runs a Vacation Rental Log House on the property. She is a fourth generation Floridian. She was born in Gainesville (Central Fl), grew up in Sunrise (South Florida), lived in Orlando (Central Fl) and Jacksonville (NE Fl) before settling outside Lake City (North Central Fl). The daughter of a school principal and school secretary, for fourteen years she taught Middle Grades, preferring English and Creative Writing. She had several students’ works published in anthologies. Her main interests are her four children ages 22, 19, 16, 11 and Irish hubby of 35 years. She enjoys spending her time writing, drawing, movies, reading.

Prompt of the Week: Illness

Today’s Prompt is: Illness

My response:

The halls of the Great Temple of Memories were never so quiet as on the day High Priestess Evelyn died. The songs of worship were not sung on that day, seventh day of the seventh month. The priests prayed in silence. The doors of the great temple were not opened that day. The air in the temple hung heavy over the heads of healthy priests.

A young girl carried an iron kettle in one hand and a clay mug in the other. She wore black today instead of the colour of her Goddess. Today was not an ordinary day. Today was a day of mourning. She walked quietly in padded slippers down the huge halls. It was said this place was built by giants. She could believe that if she looked up and thought about how far away the ceiling was.

At the very end of this hall there was a green door. On the door in elegant black lettering were the words ‘High Priestess’. The girl did not need to knock; the door opened of its own accord to let her through.

The room that she walked into was fairly large. The walls were light green contrasted against dark mahogany furniture. There was an elegant desk in one corner with a red arm chair sitting next to it, a wardrobe in another corner, and in the centre of the room there was a huge four poster bed. On either side of the bed were a little tea table and a little chair. The windows behind the bed were closed and the curtains drawn over them.

In the bed there was a woman, a very old woman with braided silver hair and unseeing blue eyes. She smiled as the girl put the kettle down and then the cup.

“It is nice to see you still care,” the woman said.
“We all still care,” the girl said.
“Perhaps. But no amount of caring can save me.”
“Do not speak that way, Mistress Evelyn,” the girl said, pouring the tea into the cup. “I have brought you tea.”
“I am going to die, child. I have lived a good life. It is fine.” The woman took the tea and sipped at it. “Ah, rose tea; my favourite. Thank you.”
“You do not have to die today-”
“If I do not die today, I shall live only to die tomorrow.” The woman put her tea down.
“You can live yet.”
“No; I have summoned you here so that I might have a friend by my side when I die. Do not try to stop me; if I wanted more life, I would seek a healer.”
“Mistress…” the girl took the old woman’s hand.
“Listen to me,” the old woman said, looking at her, “when I am gone, follow the river to its widest point. Choose carefully which of its paths to follow, and along that path you shall find your queen.”
“Do not question. Just go.”
Evelyn’s eyes closed and her chest sank. The girl buried her head in the dead woman’s shoulder and sobbed ever so quietly.

Breaking Down Big Goals

This year I think most of us have big goals and high hopes. Like me, you might be planning to finish rewriting and to submit your first novella. Or you might be planning to write two first drafts and edit the first book. Or you might be planning to write a lot of short stories and send those out. You might even have books with publication dates that you’re just itching to sell.

On a personal front, you might be planning to quit smoking, eat healthier, learn more. You might have decided that this year you want to work on more non-writing creative projects. You might want to spend this year focusing on finishing high school and getting into university. Whatever your goals are, it’s time to take a look at how to accomplish them.

Breaking Down Your Goal: The Basics

Each of your big goals can and should be broken down into more manageable goals. A yearly goal can usually easily be broken down into monthly goals. If your big goal is nebulous-eat healthier or write more, for example-that’s fine, as long as you can break it down into concrete monthly goals. For example, in January you might start eating healthier by making sure you eat a bowl of salad every other day. You might start writing more by writing one page every day. In February you might want to eat fresh fruit every day, alternating between apples, oranges, and several kinds of berries. You might also want to write two pages every day.

The biggest goal for me this year is to finish a complete rewrite of my 2006 Nanowrimo, Moonshadow’s Guardian, and to be ready and able to submit it by my eighteenth birthday on August 29th. I have decided to split it into two novellas for story reasons. I only want to submit the first one on my eighteenth birthday, but I would like to have finished the second one by the end of the year.

So how do I break up this goal? It looks something like this:

January-February: During January and February I will finish the first Novella, which will remain named Moonshadow’s Guardian. This will consist of writing a page or two every day, and tinkering briefly with the page before the one I’m working on to get me back into story mode. When breaking up your own goal, remember that things don’t need to be done all at once. You have all year; spend January laying down a foundation for the rest of your work and February starting it.

March-April In March I will hopefully have already finished this draft of Moonshadow’s Guardian. This will make time to plunge fully into the writing of my current full-length novel project, Some Secrets Should Never Be Known. I’ll spend March working on other projects and start a second, smaller rewrite on April first. March is often used as an editing month and it is NanoEdmo, so I will probably be running several articles on editing during that month.

When breaking up your goal, remember that by April 30th you should be about a quarter of the way to reaching your goal.

May-June I will finish the second, smaller rewrite preferrably by May 15th. It will take less time than the first because there will be less to do-probably a lot less. In June I will be able to start my first edit of Some Secrets Should Never Be Known, but I will also be preparing a synopsis, query, and a market list. The market for Novellas is growing, so while I already have my eyes on a very specific publisher, I will also be looking into other publishers around this time.

By June you should have made decent progress into your goals, enough that you are just riding on momentum. If you haven’t, don’t worry, it just means you need to spend more time on your goals. Think carefully about where you can find extra time. And if you have a problem with writer’s block, try some meditation and some prompts. Think about why you’re blocked and how you can get past it.

July-August July will probably be my most writing-heavy month, because in August I will probably be fleeing Toronto to visit a friend of mine in BC. Since I’ll be driving across the country with my boyfriend, I won’t have too much time to write. I probably won’t even have a laptop by then. So in July I want to do one final minor edit on Moonshadow’s Guardian, write a final copy of the synopsis and a final copy of the first query I would like to send out. (To a specific publisher.) In August I will probably just be sending it out.

By July you should be halfway through your goal. July’s a good month to finish one stage of your project entirely and to begin a new one. Those of us who have vacation during the summer should take account of that and make the best use of our time possible.

September-October By September Moonshadow’s Guardian, the first novella, will be out on submission. While I sit and wait anxiously for a response, in September and October I will be outlining and naming the second novella as well as planning for Nanowrimo.

September is a time for new beginnings; if you can have one goal finished by September and start another related goal by October, you’re ahead of the game. Now you should be very close to achieving your goal, with only a couple of things left to do. It’s also a good time to start thinking about how you can build upon your achievements next year. And in October, don’t forget to prepare for Nanowrimo.

November-December In November everything I’m working on will go on hold for Nanowrimo. In December I’ll take the first week or so off, but I would like to start working on the second novella. I also want to write a couple of short stories in December.

If you participate in Nanowrimo, then you might want to put everything else on hold for the month. If you don’t then you have an extra month to work on reaching your goal. November is a good time to start a habit that’s generally indoors-writing daily, drawing daily, blogging daily-and you’ll find lots of challenges all over the web to help you with this.

Obviously by December you should have only little things to do for your goal. By this point I will have finished Moonshadow’s Guardian and sent it out, and finished two drafts of Some Secrets Should Never Be Known, as well as having completed two workshops here on the blog and several short stories. December should be a slow month when it comes to your goals because Christmas will eat all your time.

How you can use this to your advantage

You don’t have to break your goal down into smaller monthly goals entirely just yet, but it’s good to have your January and February goals decided now at the very least, with an idea of what comes next. Remember to take monthly times into account when you’re setting goals-if you are going on a non-writing vacation (or minimal writing vacation) or if one month you know you’ll be working extra hours, set a smaller goal for that month; if you have a big vacation in the summer with lots of spare time, then prepare to devote yourself to your goals.

Each month’s goal should build upon the last. If one month you finish a first draft, the next month you should do something else, but keep the rewrite in the back of your mind and maybe send out part of it for critique. If you start eating salad three times a week one month, you should start an exercise routine or start eating more fresh fruit. Maybe one month you’ll stop biting your nails and the next you’ll stop smoking.

If your goals are nebulous, then you break them down into concrete monthly goals. If you achieve each concrete monthly goal, then you will have achieved your yearly goal. For example, I have an unofficial goal to take better care of myself. This will manifest in first cutting back on gluten (I might have Celiac, which means I shouldn’t eat gluten) and stopping biting my lips. Then I will be endeavoring to wash my face and brush my teeth more often, because I don’t do those things as much as I should. Finally I will be quitting smoking. One thing leads to another. One goal, one success, helps you believe that you can succeed at the harder task.

If you get discouraged, remember why you made the goal. Remember that you are rewriting to submit; you are eating better to live longer; you are submitting to become a published author; you are blogging to meet new friends.

Next week I’ll probably be posting about changing your mindset to change your life.

MuseItUp! Author Interviews: Ginger Simpson

Today’s author is Ginger Simpson of MuseItUp, whose book, Hurricane Warning, was published with MuseItUp on November First, 2010. This interview was done and put away before the book’s publication.

About the Author: Ginger retired in 2003 to devote more time to her writing but soon discovered there is much more to being an author than just penning a novel; you have to promote and market yourself. Amidst the time spent online, blogging, chatting, and posting excerpts and blurbs, she also enjoys time with her eight-year-old grandson, Spencer. He’s the light of her life, and she’s inspired by the way he’s overcome hurdles that autism has put in his path. Ginger may never be a NY Times best-selling author, but she’ll settle for being Spencer’s “Nee Nee.”

~Can you tell us a bit about your upcoming projects with MuseItUp?
I signed six contracts with Muse It Up Publishing; five short stories and one Young Adult that I hope will go to print when the time comes. I’m very excited to be part of Lea and Litsa’s new venture, and with them at the helm, I see great things happening. In case anyone is interested, I’ve written The Forget-Me-Nots, which was inspired by memories of my mother and father in pictures from WWII, A Wing and a Prayer, which is about a flight attendant on her first day and how first impressions aren’t always what they appear to be, Masked Love–about a middle-aged women who is aghast when she learns from the doctor that she has sleep apnea, Just the Right Fit,a story inspired by a true experience of my highschool chum, Karyl and her shoe-shopping experience, and Hurricane Warning, a little tale about a divorcee who moves to Florida and faces her first hurricane and the growing attraction to a hunky neighbor who comes to her rescue. My young adult, Shortcomings, introduces a high schooler with a birth defect and her lack of ability to deal with the rude stares and comments from her peers.

~How and when did you decide you wanted to be a writer?
I’ve always written in come capacity, but it wasn’t until 2001 that my first “character” spoke to me and urged me to tell her story. I still remember that day I sat down at the laptop I’d borrowed from work and made Cecile Palmer’s acquaintance. That was a life-changing day for me. The end result was my debut western historical romance, Prairie Peace.

~What was the first genre you wrote in?
Not surprising, western historical! I grew up watching all those old TV westerns and read every book Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote.

~Do you find that different skill sets are used for writing in each genre?
Not really. My stories are driven by characters who usually show up already named and armed with a great plot. All I have to do is type. The only way I can explain it is the experience is like telling myself a story, and I can’t wait to see where it’s going and how it ends. The hardest story I’ve written is entitled The Locket, and the “star” is a piece of jewelry. I started this one on a dare from my sister who wanted me to write something more mysterious. I finished it, and I was really proud of myself and loved how the story turned out. I actually wrote this one without the help of a character.

~What suggestions would you give a writer looking to break into a new genre?
I don’t think you “break” into a new genre. I’ve written romantic suspense, contemporary, humor, time-travel, historical, a mystery…and I didn’t do anything different except for the one I mentioned above. That story required me to do some heavy thinking.

~What’s the easiest genre for you to write in and why?
The best way to answer this question is to tell you that historical fiction is the hardest to write. Being a credible historical author requires that you research your era and make sure your historical facts are correct. If you don’t, you won’t be taken seriously. For example, in the old west, “kids” were goats, and “okay” wasn’t even part of the vocabulary then.

~How did you find MuseItUp Publishing?
Lea has been a friend for quite a while now and when she told me she was starting her own publishing company, I new immediately that if I could get contracted, I would be making a great move. Luckily, Lea likes my writing and only rejected one of my short stories until I made some suggested changes. That’s what’s awesome…even if you get a rejection, it isn’t written in stone. She’s always willing to entertain another look.

~What’s your favourite thing about working with MuseItUp Publishing?
I have never been part of a publishing company that includes their authors in the decision making process. Everything Lea does, she runs by “the team” for input. This is exactly how it should be. Rather than employer/employee…we are all on the same team, building a future together. I cannot say enough good things about Lea and her approach to publishing. I’m very fortunate to be contracted there.

~Have you ever participated in the Muse Online Writers’ Conference? If yes, how did you like it?
I was supposed to last year but I got sick. This year, I’m going to present a one-day workshop on The Pitfalls of Publishing. I’ve been doing this for over ten years now and I feel I’ve learned some valuable tips to share with others.

~What are you working on right now?
I recently started another western historical romance set in 1840 Missouri. The name is Hattie’s Hero, and I’m very excited about it. The real reason I started it was that I wanted to get back to my fabulous historical critique group who helped me hone Odessa which will be releasing early next year. Of course, I always have a folder full of stories I’ve started, so when I get bored or Hattie isn’t in a talkative mood, I work on something else for a while…like Joy’s Revelation. She’s really mad at me for letting Hattie take cuts. 🙂

Thanks Dianna for letting me share so much of my self. Your questions were stimulating and fun. I invite people to visit my blog at and my newly created website All my new covers are up there along with blurbs for some and videos for others.

Welcome to Dianna’s Writing Den

Hello and welcome to Dianna’s Writing Den. Some of you may know me from my old blog, Fictional Worlds ( For those of you who don’t, I am a young Canadian writer who focuses mainly on dark fantasy, though currently I am also working on my first YA fantasy project. I created Fictional Worlds in order to talk about my passion, which is writing, and to share my writing journey with others. Due to some issues with my former host, I have created this blog in its place and switched hosts.

Here in Dianna’s Writing Den you will find writing prompts and exercises, author interviews, book reviews, and blog posts on every topic imaginable related to writing. I do my best to post three times a week, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, though sometimes it’s hard when I’m also trying to complete several fictional projects and high school.

This year I hope you will follow me on my journey towards becoming the full time writer I have always dreamed of being. I hope to help other aspiring writers and to give successful writers interesting reading material. To this end I will also be doing workshops, a Dear Diary workshop in May and a Pre-Nanowrimo/Novel Planning workshop in October.

What would you like to see here on Dianna’s Writing Den?

Writing Goals: Focusing on What You’re Doing rather than What you Should be Doing

I am always working on writing more, on devoting more time to my craft. I am not the best at self discipline. I do love my craft. I also love my friends, of which I have many, most of whom live quite a distance from me. It is very easy to get dristracted by friends or by one of a million other things. It is hard to balance school, writing, and all of my friendships.

I have tried many times to create a writing schedule. I have tried to designate three or four hours of my day to writing. I have tried just saying that I would spend an hour every day writing. I have tried all kinds of things; most of them have failed.

This year, instead of spending my time focusing on when and what I should be writing, I am going to focus on when and what I do write. Each day I am going to put down on my calendar how much of that day I spent writing, editing, or marketing.

You might have the same problems with self discipline. You might find it incredibly hard to spend an hour every day writing, even though you should, even though it is your passion. Instead of thinking about when you should be writing, and yelling at yourself when you don’t, try just writing it down every time you sit down to write.

The idea here is positive reenforcement: seeing that you wrote the day before on your calendar should help to inspire you to write today, and then seeing that you wrote today should help you write tomorrow.

Make the effort to write a little bit each day, and record all the time you spend writing. In a month’s time, you’ll be able to analyze how much time you spend writing, what keeps you from writing, and how you can make more time for your writing.

Today when you’ve finished writing, make sure to note on your calendar how much time you spent at your writing desk. We’ll talk more about this record in a month or so.

Do you spend too much time getting mad at yourself for not writing? Try instead to feel good about the time you do spend writing.